Turns out, Germany is not the only country whose train system commonly has outages due to train strikes. The UK had a scheduled train strike for this weekend, which meant that we had to cab it from London to Cambridge. While the ride costed both an arm and a leg, which is surprising, considering it’s not a very far distance, the drive ended up being beautiful. Granted, I fell asleep, so I only caught parts of the countryside. It took us a little more than an hour arrive.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel, and quickly headed off to walk around the University of Cambridge. I’ve never seen a university campus with such old buildings and structures. The university was founded in 1208, so it’s definitely got some history. It’s crazy to walk around a campus that’s older than most countries.
Big, old, towering buildings made up the majority of the school’s primary architecture, with more modern structures sprinkled in between. With 31 colleges across the university, Cambridge is a fairly large institution.
It’s pretty much what I imagined it to be like. There are libraries everywhere, I would love to be a student here and sit in the hallowed halls where some of the brightest minds of humanity once studied. Granted, it’s not that easy to get in to certain places.
The college structure maintains strict association and access, so a member of one college cannot simply walk into another college. You have to know someone in the college to escort and let you in.
The campus grounds are massive, so it's preferred to bike. We ended up walking around everywhere, which killed our feet by the end of the day. It was still worth it though. The university is integrated with the city of Cambridge itself, which is in and of itself one of the oldest college towns in the world. Large grass fields called “Greens” are located throughout the campus. Students, faculty, and visitors were sprawled out on the grass enjoying the sun. The campus itself is so beautiful and green, which large trees and flowers of varying species sprawled everywhere.
But when it comes to grass, you have to be mindful which grass you step on. Certain grass fields are marked off limits, especially within specific college grounds. You can only step on it if you are an officially named fellow of the college, a prestigious honor and privilege. If you get caught, someone will come and yell at you to get off.
Today was graduation day, also known formally as congregation. Graduates from various colleges were celebrating the ends of their academics studies and officially obtained their degrees bestowed by the university.
This graduation ceremony was one of the most interesting experiences ever. The entire ceremony is all in Latin. Every single word. It’s been years since I studied Latin, but I’ve never heard it recited like it was plain English. We sat in the Senate House, which is formerly where Cambridge held its senate meetings in the early 18th century. In modern times, it’s used primarily for graduation ceremonies. Graduates (officially known as graduands) are lined up and presented by the Praelector (official head of the college) to the Vice Chancellor in small groups, who then bestows the degree on behalf of the university. Like I said, this is all said in Latin. The only thing you can hear is the name of the graduate. There’s no graduation speech or festivities. It feels very business like, with university officials formally tipping their caps to one another. It was so cool to see.
Following many poses and pictures, we made our way back to the hotel, freshened up, and then went for dinner at a place called Bill’s. The food was delicious, but the service was admittedly slow due to the many groups celebrating graduation. If you ever come across a Bill’s in the UK, go — it’s worth it.
Post-dinner, we explored some college bars around the university. Unfortunately, due to limited time, we weren’t able to hit all of the places on the list to check out. But it was great to explore and see what it would theoretically be like as a student from within college grounds. Our night ended up being much shorter than planned, and for good reason — we were wiped out from the day’s graduation activities. I still had a really fun time checking out the university at night.
All in all, it was such a cool experience to see the University of Cambridge. I’ve always wanted to visit. Congratulations, Neelu, on such an amazing accomplishment — the whole family is so proud of you!
Peace and love ❤️